Monday, December 12, 2011

Pursuit of Publication: The Plan (Goal Setting and Work Mode)

I'm dumbfounded at the process. Any process. For instance, several years ago I thought of writing as something that I could not share with anything else. It was in the fall, 2004, I think. I was with Eric Driskell, and we had been drinking whiskey at the bar. I don't remember exactly how we made it back to my house, but there we were. My house was the obvious place to be because there was even more whiskey there waiting for us. But once we got there, I was without my house key. You never realize how far you've come in the world until you're drunk and climbing into your bedroom with your attorney. Fortunately, once inside the house we could get back outside again. We took our whiskey and headed into the garage. We looked at my old VW and talked about life. What else can you do with your friend Eric after a night like the one we had? I remember specifically telling him that I was planning to leave my job and do my best to write full time. “What the hell for?” he asked. I tried to explain it to him. “Naw man, come on, don't quit your job,” he said. “You got a great job, you can do it all. And look at this car.”

I'm nearly ashamed of myself in that I still consider his counsel, and I'm finally putting it to use. I wonder if he remembers that night, and if he does, I doubt it was a life changing experience for him the way it was for me.

But he was right. I could do it all. Just not then. I can now. Let's consider things for a moment. Over the last several weeks we've talked about this pursuit of publication as an important part of our careers as writers of fiction. I still consider myself a writer of fiction despite my last couple of publications being poetry, and the most success I've ever experienced was the writing of screenplays. In these weeks of preparation and thought, we've come to define ourselves, our work, and our mission. It really is a can do it all sort of thing.

I'm still working in the service industry like I was in the old days of climbing through the bedroom window. I work a very fashionable restaurant here in Portland, Oregon. It's a busy place, and for the most part I like what I do. I like the money, which I consider to be a blessing when compared to the amount of hours I work in a week. Oftentimes I don't have to be at the restaurant before 4 PM and sometimes I'm not there until 6. This means that I really, and truly have all day to work on whatever I need to work on. This is a pretty good deal. I am fresher in the morning despite the fact that I'm writing this post well after midnight.

There is one more aspect to the restaurant job, and the blessing of the money available to me. I have been paying down my graduate school loans at a very quick pace. So quick in fact that I have paid down nearly 10 Grand since last June. At this rate of pay down, I should be (without any unforeseen circumstances) completely out of student debt by next August, which is a mere eight months away. Now, for you occupy chotchkies out there, if your really want to fucking stick it to the man, pay off your debts as fast as possible. This denies the interest the banks would have made should you have paced yourself on their schedule. But if this seems like too much work, pitch a tent.

So, there it is, I have two aspects to my job as a waiter in a slick downtown restaurant: 1) the hours are conducive to writing, working and pursuing publication, and 2) it's ample money to pay my debt off in about eight months. This is my schedule, my time line and my plan.

My intention is to do exactly what Eric Driskell told me to do all those years ago: keep my job, write full time and do it all.

My goals for the period of January 1 through August 31, 2012 (244 days, approximately 35 weeks):

Completion of this new material
4 chapterbooks (fifty pages each)
1 new Novel
18 short stories
35 blog posts
1 screenplay, if I can muster it.

Additional time budgets
16 novels for seasonal reading lists
2 issues of Umbrella Factory Magazine

My pursuit of publication
35 short story submissions, one a week on Fridays starting January 6
2 novel submissions coinciding with the UFM publication dates of March and June 15

I hope you've found it in your schedule and wherewithal to make an equally aggressive set of goals. This pursuit is important. What is the use of writing if no one ever reads your words?

Next time: Pursuit of Publication: The Last Licks

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